Ultra Deeply

By Sean Carroll | December 8, 2009 9:41 pm

The Hubble Space Telescope has come out with a new ultra deep field image — this one in the near-infrared, taken with the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) that was installed on the latest servicing mission. Colors are fake (obviously, unless you have infrared vision), but the spirit of the colors has been preserved — red regions are redder in real life, etc. Click on the image for a higher-resolution version (about 1.6 MB). Even higher resolutions available at HubbleSite.

Ultra Deep Field

Not too different, to the naked eye, from previous incarnations of the ultra deep field. That’s okay. I can sit and stare at these images for hours. Every one of those blobs is a galaxy! Holy crap.

  • http://scienceontap.blogspot.com ARJ

    Sort of gives Sagan’s words “b-b-billions and b-b-billions” a little more meaning….

  • DaveH

    There’s likely a civilization or two out there. Was. “Is” wouldn’t even make sense over those distances. My head hurts.

    Anyway, I hope an inherent propensity for relatively short-term thinking didn’t destroy too many of them. Or worse – ideologues with unwarranted extremes of faith in bartering or the supernatural.

    I may be projecting.

  • http://Capitalistimperialistpig.blogspot.com capitalistimperialistpig

    Are the spirals ancient or are they foreground?

    To David: I doubt that there are any civilizations out there in the far field. Carbon mostly hadn’t even been invented yet! Maybe not planets either.

  • Arlene

    What a sad day it will be for all mankind when they call Hubble home. It has given us so very much.

  • Ikkyu

    The spirals are mostly foreground. As you go further back in time the galaxies look less and less like
    the Hubble Sequence. Elmegreen & Elmegreen 2005 ApJ

  • Robert Frost

    Has anybody ever noticed the similarity between the frothy [filament/void] structure of the galaxy distributions and the frothy [filament/void] structure of high energy plasma particle distributions, like one clearly sees in the Crab Nebula, or other SN events.

    Or perhaps I should say: how can anyone not see the obvious analogy, especially physicsts who purport to study nature.?

  • Sili
  • Mandeep

    Sean- your last two words made me smile, and remind me of how trivially we weak lensers throw out galaxies left and right that we don’t want contaminating our sample, or won’t give us a good shape measurement or whatever — it’s all straight statistics to us, but i do sometimes sit and think — oh cripes, those are entire *galaxies* that we’re tossing without a second look, into the recycle bin. *Galaxies*, man.

    How much hubris we humans have sometimes. yet, i gotta get the mass profiles done, so i can’t think on it in a philosophical sense ever *too* much. ;-> -M

  • DaveH

    Doh. Maybe not too many (civilizations) then. How old would the youngest galaxies in the image be?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Rich Silva

    As I look at this image, I seem to perceive a donut shaped distortion…a ring pattern of tighter clustering of galaxies, with looser clustering dead center and in each corner corner. Is it an artifact of the “lens” or some variation of gravitational lensing?

  • http://Capitalistimperialistpig.blogspot.com capitalistimperialistpig

    Dave H. – following Sean’s link youngest are at 600 million years, mere babies. It seems pretty early for anything like life and maybe even planets, but there had been supernovae and hence there were some heavy elements.

  • DaveH

    Ach, my bad – that’s not what I meant. I know there are those from 13bn years ago. I meant newest. Nearest to our age.

  • DaveH

    I guess by choosing a region so dark at short exposures pretty much all the galaxies would be very old. Our solar system is “only” 5bn years old, so there probably isn’t even a small village hidden in that image, as you said.

    Not that the image needs that anyway! – I was just preoccupied at the time.

  • http://www.dorianallworthy.com daisyrose

    What if we are really alone – and – No One else is out there ?

  • pedro

    espero que no encuentren “bichos” tan destructivos como los humanos


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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .


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